The Real Reason I Retired Early

Arizona City

I sometimes feel dishonest when telling people I am retired. Not because I didn’t save up enough money to never have to work again – I most certainly did. But because the reasons for my extremely early retirement are not publicly known. I suffer from a great deal of anxiety and especially social anxiety. Working everyday was a hellish existence and I had to get out of it. Many people turn to drugs or alcohol to get through the day, or ask for help from healthcare providers. I took the path few travel: I suffered through my anxiety for years all while saving and investing as much as a could until I realized I no longer needed to work. Ever again.

That brings me to today. I haven’t been working for 4.5 years. My investments are still secure. I am withdrawing only 2% of my assets per year, and often I don’t even need that much and re-invest the remaining. It is utterly sustainable and I haven’t even the slightest concern that the markets will take a turn for the worse and oh no! I need to work a job again. I won’t. I will never need to work. But therein lies a problem.

I stopped working so I wouldn’t feel anxiety, not so that I could be retired. And it’s true, I have barely any anxiety these days. But I’m also not exposing myself to new experiences. The absence of work is wonderful, but it also comes at the cost of isolation. When most people in my cohort are too exhausted from their daily grind to do anything, I find myself gravitating to solo activities. And the people I do meet up with are often, well… broken. If you live your life with nearly unlimited free time every day either you have supremely failed at living as an adult, or greatly succeeded. I’m the only one I’ve met who could be classified as the latter, and I’m not even sure anymore.

My mind set out and accomplished a seemingly impossible feat. I retired in my 20s. I never have to work again. But now I am complacent. Yet, I know I can do better. I have all this time and capabilities to really do something and I don’t want to waste it. I’m going to keep working, but instead of for a corporation, I’m going to improve myself. These are the three goals I have set for myself, and my impressions of each.

Improve my body

I should be incredibly fit considering how much free time I have. I want to look at myself in the mirror and think DAMN. This isn’t going to be easy but it probably is the easiest of my goals. I’m already in the habit of running most days, and I very much enjoy long walks in the evenings while I listen to audio books. If I really work hard I should be in fine shape by next year, or sooner.

Make ludicrous amounts of money

This is more complicated since I already have a good deal of money, but it is money I cannot comfortably spend. My existing assets are there so that I can be secure in the knowledge I will never need to work again. What I need is additional money that I earn. I already have an online website business that is profitable and if I keep working at it I should be able to make at least as much money as I was making before I quit my job. It would really improve my confidence if I knew that I could actually make more money by growing my own business than by working for someone else.

In addition, I will need tons of money for expanding my lifestyle. Right now I live in a comparatively low cost of living city, which is fine, but I miss living in a big liberal city. I miss feeling like I live in a place where people are willing to take a month long vacation to explore everything. And I could do without the crazy desert people.

Get over my anxiety

I’ve struggled all my life with anxiety. Even though my life is pretty good and low-anxiety now, I want to make it better, and that will mean exposing myself to anxiety inducing scenarios. I need to alleviate my anxiety so it no longer controls my life. If I can do what few can and retire early to avoid anxiety, I wonder what I can actually do without anxious thoughts taking up my time.

This, of course, is the hardest step. But I intend to work on all these goal concurrently and document my progress here. Having all this in the public will hopefully motivate me to actually improve myself. And if there are other people out there like me then that would certainly be interesting.